I know what you're thinking: "YOU SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THIS A LONG TIME AGO, DUH. When your main character is a Filipino and you want to show a fabulous representation of that character on your cover, who else do you talk to but the fabulous, creative people who actually like styling and clothes and all the things that'll make your cover great?"
And yes, it didn't occur to me to do this. At all. (I'm sorry!) How we happened upon it at all was a happy accident, a suggestion and a study that turned into the actual cover, and now we haven't looked back.
How do I collaborate with them? It starts with finding a person who feels like the character. Not necessarily looks like the character -- I don't like associating a real person or face so much with my characters, because I want readers to do their own casting. But a cover is an advertisement for the book, so it can't be helped to do a little bit of casting anyway. I check out their blog, and their photos, to see if they have the same feel.
And then I send a message. Hi. I'd like to work with you on a cover for my book and give you a small token for your trouble. This ok with you? Something like that. I emphasize that this should not be stressful. I'm willing to use a photo already taken before, if it fits the cover we want, just so no extra time or effort is spent unless she really wants to do it that way. So far, I've been so ridiculously happy with my collaborations. Each of them has a different style, and way about them.
Rhea Bue (http://rheabue.com) as Hannah, the Interim Goddess of Love.
Rhea is on the three Interim Goddess of Love international covers. The first two photos we used were shots she had already done for her blog, so I just purchased the rights to use them as covers. For the third and last IGoL book though, she wanted to do something new for it. The resulting cover was shot in Zamboanga, which I think is an awesome detail, even though it's not obvious at all. (Some of the frustrating things about working with great photos for book covers? Having to crop so much detail out. And choosing only one!)
Alex Lapa (http://reluctantstylista.com) as Jane in the Young and Scambitious Series.
Young and Scambitious is not my usual chick lit stuff. It's about a con artist, who's pretending to be a socialite in Metro Manila. I'm glad that I actually knew of Alex already and was checking out her blog before we worked on this cover, because I knew right away that it had to be her. I had a feeling she'd be game to sort of lovingly mock this lifestyle, and yes she totally got it. And that photo of her above? I just saw it today, but it's a look that matches one of the scenes in Scambitious. I love it when this happens!
Since Scambitious is a short-story series, Alex recently did another cover for me.
Dominique Tiu (http://www.konichiwear.com), as Moira from Welcome to Envy Park.
I found Dominique through a common friend, Ron. To me, Moira the character had to look like someone who'd seen some of the world and wants to see more of it. There's a lightness to Dominique that I love, and when I look at her I do see someone who works with what she has, and where she has it, and can create a happy spot for herself wherever she happens to be. Which is kind of the point of the book. And also, Dom's clothes are awesome, haha. She wanted to shoot a new photo for the cover but time and skeds got crazy for both of us, so instead we worked with her existing portfolio and I chose the one that eventually made it to the cover. We had a lot to choose from, by the way. In the end it came down to outfit, the mood of the photo, and actually, the background too, because this one happened to match the wall I described in one of the chapters. Again -- awesome when that happens!
Thank you, Rhea, Alex, and Dominique! For being fabulous and creative, and for making my covers so pretty. :)
If you're into this and have photos or shoots in mind based on my characters or scenes, let me know? Show me what you've done? Definitely want to keep doing this, and more of it.
All covers above designed by Tania Arpa.